A brief timeline
This brief time-line describes the buildings function since its construction in 1785.
1785 – Castle Hill built as the residence of Captain William Currey a Maryport Ship owner in 1785 at the top of Mote Hill at the southern end of High Street with a commanding position looking down on the River Ellen with views across the Solway Firth.
1789-1937 - Dower House to the Senhouse family.
The Addison family - Rented by the Addison family for three generations from the Netherhall Estate. When the late Miss Addison died the house became vacant and empty for three years prior to being acquired by the Friends Society for use as the Maryport Educational Settlement.
1937-2005 - Educational Settlement (including 1940 - 1959 Maryport Infant School)
"The Settlement" - From economic depression to education
The economically depressed state of West Cumberland during the early 1930's led to a number of central government initiatives designed to alleviate the poverty experienced by the residents of West Cumbrian towns including Maryport. The Education Settlement arose from these initiatives.
The following is a brief description of how the Settlement came about and how it developed over a period of time. A number of original historical sources have been referred to along with archive material sourced from individuals connected with the settlement.
The Settlement can be said to have sprung out of the unemployed clubs of the district, these clubs being a feature of north country life in the thirties. In terms of unemployment percentages in West Cumberland, Maryport and Cleator Moor all looked down on the rest of the area from commanding heights of deprivation. With the stimulus of The Cumberland Friends' Unemployment Committee, clubs were started at Glasson, Ellenborough and in King Street. Activities included cobbling, woodwork, pig-keeping, provision of playing fields and last but not least a bath-tub which could be hired for a few pence if you did not have a bathroom at home.
Ralph Reedman arrived in the District in 1934 as assistant organiser to the committee. Further Education classes began to be held.
The Settlement seems to have originated from a number of factors, some of them rather accidental. There was the availability of a suitable building at the right price, £900, and the dire needs of this particular area, and the steady pressure of a number people who had some influence. These included Rowntree Gillet of the committee, Sir George Gillet, Commissioner for Special Areas, William Hazleton Secretary of Educational Settlements' Association and A.D. Lindsay, later Lord Lindsay of Birk Master of Balliol who subsequently used to turn up at Settlement Council Meetings his motorbike. So the Reedmans were approached to become wardens, the Dower House was purchased. And the purpose of the new organisation was set out in the Trust Deed as for "certain work of an educational, religious, social and philanthropic nature coming within the legal definition of a Charity"
The regular weekly classes and events included a wireless discussion group, university extension courses in Drama and "Central Government", a Musical Appreciation group and classes in Art and Speech Training. An interesting event by Ralph was an afternoon school of two sessions divided by tea and took place c a month with a specialist speaker and, hopefully a group of about 20 people in discussion around a topic associated with the current Sunday evening lecture. Among the regular academic faces seen at the Settlement at this time were Bruno Wiltshire, later Professor Wiltshire, Wilfred Lunn and Thomas Hodgkin. All were then associated with unemployment clubs of the district and additionally they participated as extra informal members of Ralph's team.
It is of interest to mention in passing that Tom Hodgkin's wife, Dorothy, a lady of towering intellect, was later to win the Nobel Prize in physics and become the first woman since Florence Nightingale to be awarded the Order of Merit. Two young Settlement chaps about then, being unemployed, attended the Oxford Summer school by courtesy of the old Maryport organisation and stayed with the Hodgkins. They brought no lasting impression of anything unusual about their hostess, except that she was a quiet house-wife who kept crystallographic models on the draining-board with the pots and pans. Sadly, we cannot see greatness, until someone hangs a label on it
With the building about ready, Ralph and Mary Reedman had to put their firs programme together, working almost in a vacuum, with no local precedent to The Sunday Evening Lectures were particularly high in quality.
These were among the winter's lectures which took place in the inaugural year at the Settlement:
"Writer's Views on Reading" - Randall Swingler
"Music" - Vernon Evans of Leeds
"My Work" - Eric Gill (the well known artist)
"Foreign Affairs" – J.N.Reedman M.Com. Johannesburg
"Khartoum" E.G. Sarsfield Hall of Keswick
"Some Modern Economic Problems" E. Allen of Durham University
"Africa" - The Rev. A.G.Frazer
Randall Swingler was a Marxist speaker and propagandist who aroused very many emotions in his audience. "The Daily Worker is the only paper which can tell truth," he asserted. "Well why doesn't it?" retorted Wilfred Lunn who happened be in the audience. Alf Evans, unbelievably, was a stout German refugee on the staff of the "Daily Herald" endeavouring to arouse the somnolent British to the dank and complex world about them.
Eric Gill - "Monk's habit, sandals and beard"
Eric Gill is remembered by many and no wonder, for he was visually memorable as he was in a monk's habit and sandals and with a beard. He is the Gill who is enshrined in every printing shop as the designer of modern lettering. Though already well known as a sculptor and artist, he modestly described himself as a designer of headstones.
2006 - Sold by the Friends Society to the Cumbrian Local Education Authority with the understanding that the building continue to deliver educational provision in the town of Maryport.
Castle Hill Trust (CHT) is a new charity and took over The Settlement in January 2018. The Settlement has been an important part of the educational and social fabric of Maryport since 1937. It has had ups and downs, but it is still held in great affection by local people.
The aim of CHT is to rejuvenate The Settlement to benefit the people of Maryport, especially the most disadvantaged, through a programme of arts, crafts, education and social activities, as well as making facilities available for other local groups and organisations. This is only made possible through the generosity of local funders.
We currently run a number of activities, such as
• Job Seekers • Craft & Chat
• Paint & Draw • Sewing Bee
• Pottery • Youth Group
• Gardening for All
all of which are open to any member of the community who wishes to participate. We have people with various mental issues; learning difficulties and/or social problems who come to these activities and mix with other members of the group – to the benefit, we think, of all of the group.
Our aim is to develop more activities and events, in response to people’s needs so that The Settlement is once again a community hub. We are currently in the process of developing a Man Shed in The Cellar (The Cavern Club?) with funding from Abbeyfield Carlisle Society Over 55 Community First Fund, Shepley Group Fund, Evening Hill Fund, Through Cumbria Community Foundation.
We have hosted
• A major art exhibition and another is planned for this autumn.
• A local artists exhibition is now an annual event.
• We have regular ‘Makers Markets’
• have a programme of daytime and evening talks by local authors. Business people, etc.
We hire out our facilities to other people and organisations to enable other activities to take place. We currently have weekly Yoga sessions and West Cumbria Dyslexia Association hold 24 sessions per year.
We also host Cumbria Council Adult Education classes.
We are run entirely by volunteers and charge a nominal amount for our activities so that finance is not a barrier to participation. We are supported by.